On the hard: Lessons from traveling and the boatyard

The wind howls outside as I sit comfortably in a warm house. It’s nice, but I’d rather be anchored somewhere cozy or moving fast with the following breeze. While many boaters hibernate this time of year, we keep moving. But right now, we can’t. Not yet anyway. And it’s painful.

Yahtzee coming out of the water at Canal Boatyard in Seattle.

Yahtzee coming out of the water at Canal Boatyard in Seattle.

With jackstands pressing against her hull, Yahtzee sits high and dry in a concrete boatyard. She’s just as out of place on land as we are not sailing and living on her — and the difficulty, unfortunately, has just begun.

When we left Yahtzee at the end of August, we were excited for an extended visit with family, to deliver a boat on the East Coast and to attend a friend’s wedding. I came back for a short stint to work and do projects on the boat, and now that we’re all here, that’s what we’re up to again. Yahtzee needs some love and it’s quickly becoming one of life’s curveballs that tests our resolve as a family, but also teaches us along the way. As always, we’re rolling with it.

Boatyard Blues

It’s no secret that a lot of miles have passed over Yahtzee’s rudder in the past two years of cruising and racing. But with that many miles come obstacles, and there were some that we couldn’t avoid. We’ve hit a few logs along the way and they’ve taken their toll (including the strike at the end of the Oregon Offshore Race).

What started as a small leak somewhere in Yahtzee’s stern has morphed into a full on mess of a project. After connecting with the lurking monsters that dot our waterways, I’ve always gone in the water to inspect for damage, and even when we hauled out in Portland in April, nothing seemed amiss. But a slow leak developed in the stern after the Oregon Offshore Race that we had trouble finding for quite some time. Well, we found it when we pulled the boat of the water last week — and were in for a surprise.

The source of our leak.

The source of our leak.

The partial skeg that our rudder attaches to was cracked, as was the rudder, and it seemed that fiberglass was delaminating from the hull. We immediately had a professional there to assess the damage and after grinding away paint and gel coat, we found that the area around the skeg had been repaired before and it wasn’t a good one. The crack on the leading edge of the rudder has been weeping for days and as of right now, the foil looks like a total loss. We’re currently making plans to have a new rudder fabricated, so we’ll see how that process goes.

After grinding, we found a bad patch job to be the culprit.

After grinding, we found a bad patch job to be the culprit.

Fortunately, we have the right person on the job to fix what needs to be repaired and he knows that it needs to be stronger than when it came out of the factory. Also, he’s a sailor and lives aboard with a wife and two kids, so he can identify with our situation.

Of course, we’re just getting into these projects and I’ll have a more comprehensive post once we get into all the dirty work. All of this is going to be a big hit to our budget, but that’s how life goes whether you own a boat or a house. We’ll get through it and come out better on the other side.

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

More than the money and the hard work to get everything fixed, it’s very difficult for us to be off the boat. It’s hard to be forced out of our routine and living in a city instead of cruising the Salish Sea as we’d prefer. But all this time off Yahtzee is offering up some teachable moments, too. And in true Rollin’ With Yahtzee fashion, we’re ready to embrace them and move forward instead of dwelling on things we can’t change.

Learning From Being Away

While time away from Yahtzee has shown us how much we love and appreciate our nomadic life, it has also revealed why it works so well for us.

We had a blast visiting family over the past month and a half and truly cherish the amazing support that being with them afforded. Watching the bonds that togetherness created between the boys and our friends, their grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles was incredibly special. And is something we’ll continue to nurture as they grow.

Porter and Magnus with their eight cousins and my parents.

Porter and Magnus with their eight cousins and my parents.

Getting an extended taste of land life has opened our eyes, too. Having raised the kids exclusively onboard, a house just doesn’t feel right. Floors are far apart, streets are busy and the amount of stuff can be dizzying. Even though Yahtzee is relatively small, she is safe, comfortable and, most importantly, is home to whatever adventures we dream up.

For us, it’s this ability to be mobile that we miss while on land. Sure, cars make us mobile, but not like Yahtzee or our kayak and dinghy. Moving locations multiple times a week keeps it fresh and being outside 75 percent of the day is wonderful. Also, slowly exploring the world around us everyday allows us to keep our routine simple. And while driving to everything is easy and convenient, we’re happy to not own a car.

Another thing we’ve come to discover is how different planning our daily lives is on land versus on the boat. Instead of, “where should we sail to next based on wind, tide and place” it’s more of a “what activity will we drive to tomorrow to entertain the boys?” decision.

Porter still gets his fair share of climbing and heights in.

Porter still gets his fair share of climbing and heights in.

The science center, children’s museum, zoo, pumpkin patch and more are all fun, and we’ve enjoyed doing these things, but it can get expensive and oftentimes feels forced. On the boat, our daily lives naturally have us outside exploring and learning after breakfast and lunch and there are no groans about getting into the kayak like getting into a car seat. I guess the kids enjoy their freedom to wander and discover just as much as we do.

The boys miss Yahtzee a lot, but wherever they are, they're having fun.

The boys miss Yahtzee a lot, but wherever they are, they’re having fun.

After all this land living, we’ve come to find out that, like many things in life, it’s all about balance. We have a renewed sense of “busy” now. And with several more land events (three weddings!!) before the year is over, we’ll be getting to see family and friends sooner than later. Just like we treasure our time cruising, we also appreciate the time we are able to spend with people we love.

When we finally get back out cruising, whenever that is, it will be with a renewed respect for what we have and how we make it work. We are an adventurous, travel loving family and our lifestyle suits us. It works and it works well. It’s a simple, routine based existence full of pleasures both big and small, ups and downs, natural joys and lots of togetherness. But we’ve got some work to do to in order to get back to it. We’ll push through and be out adventuring again soon.

Many more of these days are ahead of us.

Many more of these days are ahead of us.

12 thoughts on “On the hard: Lessons from traveling and the boatyard

  1. You guys have had an epic year of sailing.I was reflecting on our season aboard Lady Eileen and how so many things have changed with all the experience and camaraderie we found. Its great to see you share consistently all the ups and downs of sailing without overly dramaticizing it. Keep pushing forward and blogging about it! We are terrible at that and our adventures only scratch the surface compared to the miles and places Yahtzee and crew have been. The new rudder will be a great story and bring peace of mind for many more miles and sea stories!

    • Thanks, Barret! You’re right, a new rudder and improved skeg will provide a lot of peace of mind. And all the miles have been awesome, so we just need to move forward and get back out there.

  2. So sorry to hear of your misfortune but good to hear you are approaching it in true Yahtzee fashion. Luv to the boys. John and Pat

  3. Ouch! Sorry to hear this, that’s going to be painful on the wallet.
    Is there any chance you could repair the rudder rather than replacing? We had our weeping rudder repaired this spring. We didn’t have a crack though. If the stock is good and still securely attached, it would seem repairable. Still probably 2/5 the cost of a new rudder (but much faster turnaround).

    • Thanks! Due to the cracks and the amount of rusty water in the rudder, it basically got condemned. We could open and try to rebuild it, but it might be a losing battle for about as much as we got quoted for a new rudder. The rudder is on its way to Florida to get remade. They’ll open it up and see what they can salvage. In the long run, a new rudder will be far lighter, stronger and less prone to failure.

  4. Andy, sorry to hear about all of the problems with Yahtzee. Hope they all get fixed soon. A good time to have the boat out of the water with all the wind and storms last lweekend. Love to you, Jill and the boys. GMA

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